Yesterday we left our meadow mooring, heading for Eynsham. Just around the corner the River Evenlode (what a splendid name; could be from Lord of the Rings…) joins the Thames from the north.
There’s a bit of a “commune” at the confluence, the Evenlode comes in just behind the dark blue boat.
There’s another water junction a little further on, Cassington Cut was built to link the village of the same name to the river. Built with one broad lock and ¾ mile long it was constructed between 1800 and 1802. George Spencer, 4th Earl of Marlborough, was sponsor of the project. As well as a prominent politician he was Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire.
The Spencers were (and still are) a prominent aristocratic dynasty, The 4th Earl is an ancestor of the late Lady Diana Spencer, who became Princess of Wales on her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981.
Abandoned in around 1870, the entrance is heavily overgrown, and I missed it, so I took a picture of some geese instead.
Substitute for a canal
Eynsham Lock was our first Thames Lock of the trip, with a very pleasant and helpful keeper in attendance.
Approaching Eynsham Lock
Rock’n’Roll is moored centre, ready to do a pump-out of their loo tank, the lockie is just opening the gates for us to go in. On the right the weir is running well, creating quite a flow across the entrance.
Tucked in the lock, waiting for R‘n’R
The keepers are not just responsible for the safe passage of boats, but also for the grounds surrounding the lock. They are all beautifully kept.
Swinford Bridge, just upstream of the lock, is one of two remaining toll bridges crossing the river.
Built privately in 1769, an Act of Parliament prohibits the building of any other crossing within three miles, and allows any revenue from tolls to be exempt of tax. It was sold in December 2009 for £1,080,000 and remains in private hands. Around 10,000 vehicles cross it every day.
We pulled up onto the moorings just above the lock to nip into the village for groceries, then pushed on intending to get through Pinkhill Lock then moor a bit further on at Farmoor Reservoir. It was at Pinkhill that the day started to unravel. There was a boat waiting to go in, and two boats in the lock, coming down.
There seemed to be some sort of hold-up, so George and I walked up and found that Bones was one of the downstream boats, on the phone trying to report a collision she’d had with another narrowboat further upstream. A nasty bang, and the other boat didn’t even stop!
Bones’ bent bow
The moorings at the reservoir should accommodate several boats, that is if they’re moored considerately….
It’s almost as though they didn’t want us there….
We pushed on… and on. Bablock Hythe was understandably stuffed with river cruisers, it being a bright weekend and the Ferryman Inn a popular destination.
The weather started to go downhill as we approached Northmoor Lock, from bright and breezy it went to grey and windy. The rain started as we went up the lock, and we decided to moor right on the end of the upper landing, breasted up with bows in the reeds.
Bows in the reeds, stern on the lock landing at Northmoor
Just as we got tied up the heavens opened, lashing rain for several minutes before the clouds cleared and I got the photo above. Then it started again and this was the pattern for the rest of the evening; heavy showers and brief sunny spells.
We didn’t want to stay where we were today, although not really obstructing the landing or lock approach it could have been awkward if several boats arrived at once. So we shoved off at around 10 o’clock, in a fresh breeze and with the river flowing fairly fast after the overnight rain.
Leaving Northmoor, the wind raising cat’s-paws on the water
We didn’t intend to go far, just to find a mooring to lie up for the rest of the day. I’d already checked out the stretch up to New Bridge on a run first thing, so knew there was no point trying to get in till after the bridge.
Houses appear on the south bank…
13th Century New Bridge. This is one of the oldest on the river.
Eeny, Meeny, miney, mo. Left arch or larger centre one? Canoes milling about visible through the larger decided me, and I pushed through the left arch against the flow of the river.
We pulled in on the left bank, a couple of hundred yards beyond the bridge. Fore-end is in, rear end is stuck out a bit, but the river is plenty wide enough here. But not for everyone…
Coming in to moor, the hire boat NB Zoe got caught by wind and stream and finished up wedged, stem in the mud, stern in the trees.
Once we got our boats secure George and I went to lend a hand. We had to cut some of the branches back to get to the tiller (my old bushman saw coming in handy again), then, with several bodies on ropes at the front, and us working the stern around, we got her free.
A bit of a queue forming…
Still, the extra hands were handy for rope pulling.
Zoe along the bankside, unfortunately facing the wrong way.
Now we’re trying to get the rudder post back into the cup on the skeg. It went in, and normal traffic flows resumed.
Even the geese were patient!
The farmer has been round for a chat and his £4 mooring fee, and it’s started to rain. Ah well.
Locks 3, miles 8 (two days)